Open run

Once On This Island

Members say: Great singing, Great staging, Enchanting, Entertaining, Delightful
46 reviews
214 reviews

The joyous Tony-nominated musical returns to Broadway with its story of a fearless young dreamer in post-storm Haiti.

... Read more

Set in a fantastical world bursting with Caribbean rhythms and dance 'Once On This Island' tells the extraordinary story of a villager named Ti Moune. After a massive storm rages through her village, a ray of hope appears through a young man from the wealthy side of the island. An unexpected romance blossoms. But when their different cultures threaten to keep them apart, Ti Moune—guided by the island gods—sets out on a journey to stay beside the man who has captured her heart. Directed by Tony nominee Michael Arden ('Spring Awakening' revival) and written by the Tony Award-winning team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty ('Anastasia,' 'Ragtime.')


Cast & Creatives (30)

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Reviews (260)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

Broadway News

"An absolutely incandescent revival...The delights of this fable-like show, with a rapturous, rhythmically bewitching score by Flaherty and Ahrens, will hold you entranced...The complicated tale, which relies perhaps a little too much on narration, nevertheless comes across with piercing emotional clarity in the buoyant staging...No matter where you look, the theater seems busy with active life...Kilgore glows with big-hearted life...The supporting cast is virtually flawless." Full Review


"An uplifting revival...The ungainly in-the-round stage of Broadway’s Circle in the Square is put to imaginative use...Ahrens and Flaherty, a well-matched team, produced more than twenty songs for this musical. Besides being perfectly lovely, they also advance the narrative in ways rarely seen...A sequence of dramatic songs – from 'Waiting for Life to Begin' through the heartbreaking 'Forever Yours' – take Ti Moune on the journey of love. Full Review


“Exhilarating...Simply done with this exceptional ensemble cast, and especially with Camille A. Brown's striking choreography, carefully crafted for authenticity, this would be a sparkling jewel of a show. But add to that Michael Arden's reminders of humankind's increasing vulnerability as the planet unnaturally evolves, and 'Once On This Island' carries an even greater emotional force." Full Review

Time Out New York

"After seeing the imaginative and dynamic 'Once on This Island,' you may feel that once is not enough...'Once on This Island' is patchy in parts. Its best-known songs bring down the house, but there are also languors. And the central story of female sacrifice and degradation is treated as more inspirational than it actually is. But it is hard to imagine a better account of the show than the one that Arden and his team have assembled. It sings, dances, and conjures up a storm." Full Review

The New York Times

"A ravishing revival...A pastiche Caribbean score whose words are restrained and delicately rhymed but whose music is relentlessly grabby and emotional...Arden has aced every theatrical trick he’s torn from the ancient handbook, freshening the show, and the tricks, in the process...The hallmark ingenuity, warmth, and intensity bordering on excess that characterize Arden’s style is recapitulated everywhere within the production, from the frankly stupendous singing to the electric choreography." Full Review


"Miraculous things happen when you corral a team of talented artists and let them loose in a sandbox...Music that digs its heels into the earth one minute and floats into the heavens the next. Paired with Arden's ensemble-oriented direction, Brown's unchained choreography, and a near-perfect cast, the production walks the delicate line between the minuscule and the infinite...Every element not only tells a story but carries a palpable reverence for the divine art of storytelling." Full Review

Theater Life

"A life-affirming revival...Against this tragic backdrop, the magnificent company tells book-writer-lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty’s joyous story of survival and spirituality...In its original Broadway staging, 'Island' was a charming bauble, now it’s a stirring, enveloping experience...Newcomer Hailey Kilgore is a spectacular surprise, displaying a rich, emotive voice, expressive dancing (Brown’s choreography is stunning), and an impressive acting range." Full Review

New York Theater

"With a terrifically appealing cast, as well as a rhythmic score, infectious choreography, vibrantly colorful design, and clever stagecraft, the musical itself could well serve to soothe audience members reeling from the year’s many disasters...One might question some aspects of this 1990 musical...But any such quibbles are swept away like the detritus in a hurricane thanks to the delights large and small in the production." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"A joyful hymn to community and resilience...Together with his resourceful design team and cast of expressive, vocally gifted performers, Arden has approached the piece with the nurturing hand it requires—striking a balance between child-like story theater and folkloric ritual...Demonstrates an impressive leap in maturity and creative vision for Arden...While the early scenes flirt with a whimsical quality that might easily turn cloying, the dramatic integrity of the piece prevails." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“Sparklingly enjoyable revival…A kinetic,…90-minute production with a ‘devised-theatre’ feeling…Regardless of the questions its plot raises, the show bursts with ebullient songs, musically underscored dialogue, colorful choreography, shadow pantomime, gorgeous costumes, and awesome lighting, not to mention exceptional performances…The gifted, beautiful Lea Salonga…, especially in her white gown and exquisite headdress, looks the virtual embodiment of love, reminding us of why she's a star.” Full Review

AM New York

"Emphasizing the musical’s themes of natural disaster and economic inequality, director Michael Arden brings an unexpected dose of gritty realism, while also honoring its gorgeous score of dynamic group numbers and tender ballads. Vocal fireworks and full-bodied dance choreography imbue spirituality and joyful theatricality...Kilgore and the superb supporting cast essentially grab the audience and proceed to take it on an exciting, emotional, and extraordinary journey." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"Good as it was then, it’s exponentially better now that director Michael Arden has revived the tuner...When Ahrens and Flaherty tell the story this time, their vivaciously enchanting songs become that much more valuable. As the numbers spring into the air they reinforce a troubled people’s indomitable spirit. Also, Camille A. Brown’s spirited choreography becomes that much more uplifting...Transcendent and shockingly relevant-to-today." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"A justly loved one-act musical...No radical revisionism...But as compared with previously major stagings of the work, Arden’s in-the-round production notably steps back from the cruise-ship version of the Caribbean popular in the early years of stagings of this show...The sculpted live-ness of the conceit makes for a very au courant and youth-friendly staging…This is all the way it should be with 'Island,' a 90-minute pleasure all about reviving a story still very much of use." Full Review


"A smashing revival...Arden’s exuberant staging conjures a spell that is devastatingly timely yet affectingly timeless...Much of the show’s charm derives from its seamless interweaving of narrative, song, and dance...A confident, swinging cast is blessed with showcase numbers...Kilgore, like this revival itself, is no imitation but a triumph in her own right, striking exactly the right balance between innocence and spirituality, youth and experience. She’s just wonderful." Full Review

New York Daily News

"Broadway’s bewitching revival of Ahrens and Flaherty’s 'Once on This Island' is filled with beauty...Arden’s smart and timely concept underscores the elemental and emotional tempests at work in the musical fable that celebrates love, resilience, and the spirit of hope...Over a fast-moving 90 minutes, the score mixes captivating calypso beats and warm ballads, all brought to life vividly by the fine-tuned cast. Exuberant dancing adds bursts of excitement." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

“Lush and musically intoxicating…Once I found myself comfortably there, I could breathe in the humid warm air of the Caribbean, and even though those first moments are less than engaging, the first number…grabs hold of our hearts and souls quickly and we are transported...As it proceeds, the story of Ti Moune and her saved young man deepen beyond just young love, expanding into mythology and the meaning of forgiveness and love that lasts beyond a lifetime.” Full Review

Front Row Center

“Lost none of its luster over the years, and in the production the beauty of this musical has been given its full due and then some...The ensemble contribute in myriad ways to the performance, handing off the narrative to each other in a verbal dance...The cast infuses every moment with spirit, emotion, and music. Everywhere you look something catches your eye...Every single element blends perfectly to bring this already beautiful musical to dazzling, joyous life.” Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

"The ensemble is strong. The dance numbers by Camille A. Brown were the highlights for me. It is hard to believe that there are only four musicians because the sound is not skimpy at all...Michael Arden’s direction is assured. While I will never count it among my favorite musicals, I do have a new respect for it as a well-crafted work that creates a vivid world and offers some creative storytelling along with some appealing music and spirited dancing." Full Review

The Wrap

"Dandridge and Kilgore belong more to the caterwauling school of Broadway braying that current audiences often lavish with ovations. Playing the demon of death, Dandridge is expected to make some loud, questionable sounds. Kilgore’s abrasive tone is much less acceptable, as are her facial grimaces...'Once on This Island' captures Ahrens and Flaherty at their most intimate and therefore their most effective." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Arden's done it again, this time gloriously integrating the art of theater magic with the even older art of storytelling, resulting in the nigh unto perfect revival...Flaherty's score offers a mix of styles. The songs for Ti Moune call on Hailey Kilgore to embrace us with a full-voiced, emotional style that suits her character's certitude...Truly, any quibbles with this impressive and thoroughly engaging production are minimal." Full Review

Theater News Online

“Deceptively simple – yet, dare I say, powerful...At times, the show’s physical attributes come close to overwhelming the delicate story, but ultimately, they enhance and burnish it...The show really rises on the casting of central role of Ti Moune, and Kilgore delivers all the goods...I suspect once will not be enough for many viewers of ‘Once on This Island’. Nor should it be if you want to experience every facet of the show’s innate richness and Arden’s often-remarkable production.” Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"This production is on first impression, immediately involving...If this is myth, it is weak stuff, its power and mystery insisted upon but not felt. If it means to offer a moral lesson, it is even weaker...Why then do we tell this story? Maybe because it makes us feel morally sensitive without the labor of being so...But Ti Moune is strong only because she doesn’t mind being a victim. Little about this love is admirable, and its self-sacrifice is unconvincing." Full Review

Broadway & Me

The idea of a poor dark-skinned woman sacrificing herself so that a wealthy light-skinned guy can live annoyed me so much that I sat there during the entire 90-minute running time asking myself the words of a famous lyric from the show 'why do we tell this story?'...Things only got worse for me when the production indulged itself in another of my bugaboos: the rousing gospel aria delivered by a large black woman...I can't complain about the performances, which were all very good." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Defined by its miraculous score, which blends calypso realness with Broadway...Ahrens and Flaherty pack into just 90 minutes all the sensory and emotional impact that most musicals take two hours to deliver...Director Arden expresses the intimacy inherent in the piece by staging it in the round...Perhaps its most miraculous quality of all is that, though it may generate copious tears, we don’t begrudge a single one, and leave the theatre happier than when we entered it." Full Review


"A production that comes to life in a burst of creative energy...Arden's vision weaves together island culture, the have-nots and the haves, with remarkably inventive artistry. From the set, complete with a body of water, to the phenomenal ensemble, every piece of this production pulses with an organic exuberance that's impossible to resist...And if the story-telling gets a bit muddled, just let that wonderful score carry you away with its mix of gentle rhythms and pulsing beats." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

Clever, Relevant, Charming, Great singing, Warm

See it if You like the material and want to see it on a bigger scale than the original.

Don't see it if If you're not a fan of the story, music. . .

Relevant, Slow, Great staging

See it if you want to see a Tony-award contender Hailey Kilgore. Her voice and acting are wonderful. Isaac Powell is also excellent.

Don't see it if you are expecting a full-blown musical with haunting melodies. I do not think you will come out humming.

Also I saw the original production. In this production, the set design and ... Read more Read less

Delightful, Enchanting, Refreshing, Romantic, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy watching an ensemble cast, an engaging show, and beautifully directed musicals.

Don't see it if I can't think of a reason, it really was a wonderful production.

Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Great staging, Fluffy

See it if you would like a delightful evening of folk tale told through a cute musical - very Disney.

Don't see it if It is occasionally fluffy, so don't go if you want an intense realistic evening - it's just fun. Also not a proscenium show, so look around

Delightful, Enchanting, Masterful, Must see, Great staging

See it if you have a soul. Great staging beautifully acted and sung the set is fantastic A must see play

Don't see it if you are dead inside

Absorbing, Enchanting, Must see, Refreshing, Entertaining

See it if you love LOVE, music you will feel in your heartbeat, love innovative sets/costumes, powerhouse vocals

Don't see it if island style music bothers you... I got nothing, you should really see this one!

Clever, Refreshing, Entertaining, Great singing, Amazing sets

See it if you enjoy a folktale-like plot of storytelling, with actors playing multiple roles; if you love Caribbean music and dancing. Amazing set.

Don't see it if you don't appreciate innovative set designs and theater-in-the-round.

Absorbing, Enchanting, Relevant, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You want to see some amazing musical performances, fantastic set and costume design, and a flawed but resonsnt story.

Don't see it if You have rigid ideas about race & class; you don’t like a story w/ fantasy elements. If you’re not willing to “go along” with a show’s idea.

Enchanting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you love intimate musical theater, great songs, fantastic performers, a sweet fable about life, love and sacrifice, and real goats onstage!

Don't see it if you're overly sensitive to fables that incorporate age old truisms about skin color & class divisions or you're too attached to the original

Also The original production has stayed with me all these years - I carried... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Intelligent, Refreshing, Great staging, Full of heart

See it if you want to experience a full range of emotions in 90 minutes, along with clever staging and great dancing.

Don't see it if you're not a fan of magical realism, or want fluffy/light material.

Also This show made me feel so many things, so strongly. I'm normally not a... Read more Read less

Delightful, Enchanting, Must see, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You want to see a terrific musical given new life with thoughtful direction by an outstanding cast.

Don't see it if You don't have a pulse. Otherwise, see it.

Clever, Enchanting, Must see, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if If you want a fun island experience with clever staging, fabulous song and singing. Whimsical, upbeat show with laughter and gaiety.

Don't see it if You don't like Carribean theme folklore and music

Also I was disappointed that Lea Solonga was a now show. Apparently she has... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you enjoy imaginative contemporary musicals of classic tales with great actors/singers, innovative story telling.

Don't see it if you don't like musicals.

Absorbing, Clever, Enchanting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you enjoy great singing, inventive staging, and feeling joy.

Don't see it if you hate all musicals under any circumstance, or you are a cold, heartless person.

Clever, Great acting, Cliched, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you love this show.I have just never enjoyed it.The performances were terrific;direction & design were all top notch.Music is fine.Dull book

Don't see it if you expect to be moved or inspired. All the elements are here for a terrific show, but the book is very weak.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you like fresh directorial takes on old material, don't mind tragic endings

Don't see it if you are not a fan of musicals that serve as commentary for social issues such as classisim, colorism

Absorbing, Enchanting, Exquisite, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you're ready for a profoundly relevant and moving musical, imaginatively and brilliantly staged.

Don't see it if you're not willing to go along with storytelling theater and not open to extreme feelings of elation and sadness.

Absorbing, Refreshing, Entertaining

See it if Very creative staging. Great acting and story. One of my favs on my last trip to nyc!

Don't see it if You prefer a traditional play

Masterful, Riveting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if See it for the music, the acting, and the incredible staging. Michael Arden has done great work here. I felt like a part of the story.

Don't see it if you're not interested in an immersive experience. Also, the story is fable, so you have to be able to suspend disbelief a bit.

Also From the moment you step into the theater, you are in this world.

Enchanting, Romantic, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you like classic storytelling, fables, great singing and fantastic direction that puts a beautiful spin on a Broadway classic

Don't see it if you don't enjoy theater presented in the round, or prefer shows with a more complex plot

Exquisite, Great acting, Riveting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You want to see a masterfully staged version of one of the most loved musicals ever written. Simply sublime!

Don't see it if You want to miss what could be THE theatrical event of the season! Please... don’t miss it. Go. Go. Go!

Maximalist staging of a simple fable (hello, live goat & chickens), Great afro-hatian choreo, Wonderful if sometimes oversold performances, Lovely score freshly arranged

See it if you like the score and appreciate a different directorial approach, albeit one that is overladen with ideas and sometimes overemphatic

Don't see it if you're expecting the pretty tourist version of the Caribbean; don't like environmental staging or are allergic to sand (or goats)

Also Director Arden really pulls out every stop here. Sometimes it's effect... Read more Read less

Banal, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You like amazing singing/singers, Caribbean flavored show tunes, unique and amazing staging.

Don't see it if you are hoping to see Lea Salonga in a bigger role b/c her role is supporting. If you are hoping for a good storyline or a happy ending.

Enchanting, Exquisite, Masterful, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you want to be transported to an enchanting theater experience. The talent is beyond fabulous. Inspired staging. Perfectly executed.

Don't see it if You do not like musicals.

Great acting, Refreshing, Indulgent, Cliched, Great singing

See it if you want to see a near-perfect score performed by a terrific cast

Don't see it if you don't want your experience to be marred by an overblown, over-directed, gimmicky concept